Years ago, I wrote a reaction to attending A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Orlando. Click here in case you missed it. In that article I spoke about living in the shadow of giants–the great names of our field–and how we can navigate to get our share of the light. Now I wish to hit along the same points but speak more of what it’s like to be a fan of those giants and a creator at the same time.
To be a good writer means you’re a good reader. Formulaic it may sound, that means to be a good creator, you’re a good fan too. How many of you artists, creators out there are subscribed to at least three channels on YouTube devoted to your thing; how many of you regularly fall back onto theory-talk with your friends when the conversation grow stale? Rick and Morty, Star Wars, Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Stranger Things . . . this list of discussion topics is endless. We can’t help but talk about our inspirations. They make us excited to find others who share our interests and challenge our own interpretations of the subject. Now how many of you ache to have others, future generations, one day feel the same about your own work?
As much as I love analyzing, dissecting every piece of material given and yet to be revealed until the conclusion, I can’t help but long for the day when my creations generate the kind of community and enthusiasm that blossom from the stories of today . . . the ones still popular after decades. I think it’s a good indicator you’ve made worth-while art when you spawn others to want to do the same. A kind of creative pro-creation if you will. The products of my imagination fueling others hangs in my mind, saturating thoughts whenever I consume what inspires me, listen to hour-long live streams on YouTube, and geek out with my friends.
So when do you know when it’s time to spend more time creating? Should you stop being a fan if you’re serious about your craft? I don’t think so. I think it’s necessary for creators to be fans. If we cut off the fuel that first got us going, how can we continue to grow? By examination (some would call nitpicking), creators can recognize what works in published content, where there is oversight, and understand the material could not make everybody happy. It’s practice not only so we recognize but apply what we’ve learned to our own work. We discover ideas we value the more we speculate and develop them further in our own works, placing our own twists and giving voice to our view of the world. We learn from the past to better future creations.
The best part about this is it doesn’t just apply to artists. Think of any part of civilization where people create or teach or pass on knowledge or skills: science, athletics, business, engineers, apparel designers, trades workers. If there are people whom others aspire to be as, then in those fans lies the ambition to take their place and transcend their legacy. It’s a perfect execution of recycling knowledge, evolving what has already been established, and securing its longevity. You cannot be a true creator of that field without being a fan. It’s a community of fan to creator, fan to fan, and creator to creator. These relationships nurture competition, so everyone produces their best material for audiences. Success builds on success. We may live in the shadow of giants, but audiences are too thirsty to be sated by just one option. Some haven’t found relief yet. That is where the Unknown can help. Ultimately, it’s important to know that we need to create for ourselves as much as for others. Because before them came the first fan of your work: yourself.
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